I’ve recently gone on a trip to the 仲源寺 (Chugen-ji) temple in Kyoto. I was intrigued by an automaton that moved when you place a coin in it, surprisingly gave me a fortune slip in return. I’ve kept the fortune with me hoping that I could get a translation but no to avail.
I did read up though on how to read the general fortune which is usually written in big text or on the top most of the おみくじ (omikuji):
大吉 - Daikichi - Excellent luck (Immediately go gamble and buy lottery tickets)
吉 - Kichi - Good luck
中吉 - Cyukichi - Fair luck
小吉 - Syokichi - A little luck
半吉 - Hankichi - Semi-good luck
末吉 - Suekichi - Uncertain luck / Future luck
末小吉 - Suekokichi - Uncertain but a little luck
凶 - Kyou - Bad luck (Misfortune)
小凶 - Syokyou - A little misfortune
半凶 - Hankyou - semi-misfortunate
末凶 - Suekyou - Uncertain misfortune
大凶 - Daikyou - Certain disaster (consider buying a karmic life insurance policy)
I got 末吉 Suekichi as a general fortune but I am more interested in translating what the rest of the text say. In popular temples they have it in English, Korean and Chinese. I got one as a souvenir from the Osaka Castle which was in English so it wasn’t a problem before.
Has anyone had this experience of getting a fortune slip? How did you go about translating the fortune? I hear its based from Chinese poetry so its difficult to translate directly.
I got 末吉 twice on my trip in December. Seriously. I… think I’ve still got one of them somewhere. I wonder where I put it. In my memory, both had English translations written on them, but I’m not completely sure if my memory is accurate.
But show us the slip? We can try having a stab at it.
Very sudden ups and downs. If you strive to keep your heart in the right place in business, better fortune will arive without you noticing, but if you fail to do so, calamities shall surely gather upon you. If your conscience shames you, you should be very humble.
Lucky direction: South-west
Sickness: If you suffer from a serious illness, prevention is of first importance
Travel: You will have trouble with women
Moving house: Hold off for a little while
The person you await: There is good news. It will come later. (Or they will? Not sure)
Marriage: Passion heats and cools easily - respect the opinion of your parents
Job-seeking: If you chase after two hares, you will catch neither
Commerce: Do in moderation, or you will exhaust people
Gambling: If you get carried away, you will fail
Wishes: If you are patient, they will come true
Maybe I should dig mine out and post it too. We can have a swap-meet.
While I was on JET, I went to my small local shrine on New Years Eve. I pulled out an omikuji - it was daikichi. Considering how the rest of that year went, it maybe wasn’t that accurate. But, it’s still a nice memory.
In general I haven’t had any success trying to interpret omikuji on the spot, but I still have the one from New Years so I can try to translate sometime if I like.
I have a whole pile of brochures and flyers and things that I picked up, and photos of signs and posters that I’ve taken, mostly so I could try to translate sometime if I liked. So far, I’ve never gotten around to it.
This one’s a bit more poem-like, and certainly much more difficult to read. Considering it’s from Senso-ji, the temple which receives possibly the greatest number foreign visitors, there’s an English (and Chinese and Korean) translation on the back, but (a) I’d like to see what we can make of it, if anything, and (b) the provided translation is a little bit stilted.
I tied my omukuji from Nezu Shrine to the “tree” at the shrine, though I carefully made sure I photographed the Japanese text before I did so. Checked over my photos just now, though, and it seems like I managed to photograph the Chinese translation instead. I blame tiredness…
I was about to say, the way you translate a Sensoji Mikuji is by flipping it over and reading the English. I have one too, but I forget the poems, it seems like it is 漢詩 and as you can see it has 訓読 on it. Though it is perhaps easier as an English speaker to read it as Chinese rather than flipping it into Japanese.
Other Shrines will have 短歌 on them or other shorts of poems too. Perhaps most commonly is poem -> Fortune -> Specifics.
I had also looked up on the tradition of tying a bad fortune slip to the tree but only after researching the translations. I can imagine if I had brought home a bad fortune slip, getting rid of it would have been a tad hilarious
I would say ‘they will’ since it’s referring to a person.
This is the most recent omikuji I got. I visited a special shrine for passing exams (for the JLPT), so I picked up a goukaku omamori (amulet to pass the exam) and also a daruma (also for passing exams). The daruma came with this omikuji. I’m super happy with it! My first daikichi ever!
my rough translation: When you first cross the bridge over the small river in the dangerous valley you are worried, but surprisingly, you are not lost. (?? I’m not sure about the surprisingly bit).
Afterwards, (nothing and also him???pls halp) peace will be restored. It would be best to do the small things (I guess like, start will the small things?)
Basically like: Things may appear more scary than they are. Stay calm and do things bit by bit and you’ll be fine (?)
To be fair, that was not hands-free. I consulted the dictionary for much of it - still haven’t learnt a lot of those kanji.
I wasn’t sure if it meant the news would come later.
Not confident on this, but I think it’s more like “In the beginning, your worries are like crossing a bridge over a stream in a dangerous valley, but do not get surprised and lose your way. Afterwards, everything shall settle down peacefully.”
何も彼も is an expression meaning “anything and everything” (which, with the も in there is the opposite of what I would have expected).
For the おみくじ that are more standard like what @jalentino posted (I second the request for larger/cleaner pictures), I usually have no problems translating them. Last time I drew one from a small gadget in a ramen shop, I shocked a Japanese friend by reading it aloud after they tried to assist me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have that one still. Probably got washed after I left it in my pocket. Any of the other one’s I’ve gotten are probably archived someone on my home computer; should I remember, I can post them later.
As for the types like the one @Syphus posted, that’s anyone’s guess. Your translation looks fine to me! Literal translations are one thing, but figurative translations are always a mess. When you consider how difficult it can be to understand poetry from one’s own language at times, it’s fairly obvious trying to do the same with poetry from a different language would be even harder.